Meet Yitzchak Abuchatzeira. Yitzchak works for the Department of Youth at Risk (Kidum LeNoar) in Jerusalem with young adults from the Bratzlaver community. The ones that find their way to him are not in school, often living in the streets, and without parental guidance.
He takes them in, sets boundaries and rules and offers them a chance to finish their twelve years of schooling. He provides courses that might interest them and get them on a path to taking responsibility for their lives.
Yitzchak is the kind of guy who loves the kids he works with. They can call him any time of night for anything. On a visit to his office you can witness a bunch of extremely rambunctious young men actively vying for his attention. Yitzchak currently has 16 participants in his program. He’s professional, kind, devoted, insightful and smart. But he, and other youth workers all over Israel, have their work cut out for them. The numbers are sobering.
Over 260,000 children and adolescents in Israel are at-risk. They suffer the gamut of problems: family neglect, social and life skills deficiencies, emotional trauma, physical disabilities and abuse. Over the past 10 years the Israeli government has created several programs to help individual segments of this population, but unfortunately, the available resources are not enough. That’s where an organization such as Ten Gav (www.tengav.org), an internet crowdfunding platform that matches donors to individuals and families with modest needs, has an important role to play.
Through its Project BOOST, Ten Gav is partnering with social services workers in cities throughout Israel to help their youth break the cycle of poverty and work towards building sustainable and productive futures.
Ten Gav accepts applications from field workers for computers, academic/psychological evaluations, and tuitions and accessories needed for external courses. In Jerusalem, the Department of Youth-at-Risk operates many branches and has field workers throughout the city offering multiple programs whose goals are to facilitate the completion of high school, prepare youth for the army when possible, introduce them to potential vocational training and facilitate their interaction with their parents and siblings.
The branch where Yitzhak works is located on the outskirts of Jerusalem, in Givat Shaul. Kedum leNoar (which translates from the Hebrew to the Department for the Advancement of Youth) runs tri-weekly classes and after-hours programs there for boys between the ages of 13 and 18. It’s goal is to ensure that they complete high school when possible and gain enough work skills to earn a living.
The challenge however, is that often these boys have needs beyond which government programs can provide. In order to successfully complete high school, for example, a youth may require a psycho-didactic evaluation so that s/he can obtain Ministry of Education easements, critical to his or her ability to pass exams and acquire a diploma. Or, a worker like Yitzchak will often find that a young person’s homelife is so destitute that it is not realistic to expect his/her consistent participation in a program designed to help. In such a case, Ten Gav might fund a fridge for the home, with the understanding that family life is unbearable in its absence.
Yitzchak explains: “We want to give these boys a framework for success. However, if they want to join our program they have to agree to our conditions, which include being in before one a.m., no partying and maintaining an afternoon job, which we help them find.”
It also involves teaching the boys’ parents how to parent. “Many of them have never parented before and they don’t know how to establish rules and set parameters for their children,” he adds.
“Project BOOST is changing the lives of young people around the country, one at a time,” says Naomi Jacobs-Brounstein, founder and co chairman of Ten Gav (www.tengav.org). “Program directors like Yitzchak need support beyond what their government budgets give them. They are in the field and know first hand what these young people need. We are privileged to be able to help Yitzhak and committed social workers around the country, that are doing their absolute best with very limited means at their disposal. And we are even more privileged to be able to bring the giving public these very meaningful giving opportunities.* ”
Any other messages? “Passover is a time of remembering our past and it is customary to help the poor with their needs for the holiday,” says Vivi Mann, co founder and chair of Ten Gav. “We all spend so much getting ready for our own holidays, let’s not forget those whose basic needs are not being met. Giving to others now will only enhance our own family holiday.”
To read more about Project BOOST or to make a donation , go to www.tengav.org
*Ten Gav operates on the 100% model. Ten Gav fundraises separately to cover its administrative costs so 100% of your donation goes toward funding the need you choose.